Why you should be asking your AV or production vendor about wireless microphone frequency coordination
By Joe Faulder
In today’s world of wireless information transfer, there is an unprecedented amount of information traveling on radio waves all around us, at all times. Cell phone voice and mobile data, radio and TV broadcasts, and nearly all digital information that gets transmitted and received, is clogging up the invisible spectrum of available radio waves. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), an independent agency that controls who has legal access to what frequencies, has recently been reassigning parts of the spectrum as well as holding auctions for others. The result is a large reassignment of space – in the 600MHZ range – that was widely used for wireless microphones.
As an association meeting professional, why should you care? Well, one of the core components to any event is audio in the general session and meeting rooms, specifically wireless microphones, that transmit the “audio data” from microphone to receiver (which takes place on similar frequencies to many other technologies). If there is another technology being used in the vicinity of your meeting on a similar radio frequency, it can cause major interference – or even stop your wireless microphone from working completely. This could effectively bring your meeting to a standstill.
As a result, we are seeing the need for “Frequency Coordinators” on events increase dramatically. A Frequency Coordinator is hired by your AV or production vendor to do a pre-show analysis of the radio traffic in the venue in which your meeting is being held. During your event, they use software to constantly monitor radio frequency traffic to help your AV vendor adjust frequencies for wireless microphones accordingly. Having someone with this skillset on-site can help catch interference issues before they happen and make sure your event’s audio runs cleanly. Frequency Coordinators have been routinely employed for large productions such as the Super Bowl or rock concerts, but with the dramatic increase in radio traffic they are now becoming regular fixtures at association events.
To make sure you are covered, get in touch with your AV or production vendor and ask what they are doing to protect your meeting’s audio.
Special thanks to Cody Heimann of Nashville’s Open Channel Coordination Services, with whom Projection regularly contracts with on our clients’ events. Cody helped inspire this article with an interview he did with RF Venue. If you would like to get a little more technical and get to know Cody a bit more, please read that interview here: Talking Strategy With Cody Heimann of Nashville’s Open Channel Coordination Services.